The Swedish Association of Youth Councils (SAYC) holds the basic idea is that young people, just like adults, should have the opportunity to influence their own lives. This becomes easier when they organize themselves. A youth council is an organization by and for young people who live in a particular municipality, city or neighborhood. Youth councils do many diferent activities and aims to make life better for themselves and other young people in their community.
The Swedish Association of Youth Councils gathers youth councils and other influence forums for young people from all over the country. We have about 40 active member organizations in our network, and is constantly growing. Today we do not know exactly how many Swedish municipalities that have influence forums for young people, but we are at full speed trying to get an overview and make a statement about this. What we do know is that young people in many places around the country lack the opportunities to be heard. That is what we are trying to change.
The Swedish Association of Youth Councils was formed in 2003 by young people who felt a strong need to cooperate, and today this is still the organization’s main function. We help young people from across the country to get in touch with each other. We also give them inspiration and knowledge about how they can face the problems they see in their own communities. Youth councils are working politically in many places, but this is not required. Many youth councils also run their own business, as well as conduct social and cultural events and activities. We at the The Swedish Association of Youth Councils see how important it is that the youth councils must be allowed to work with what they want, in their own way and we therefore put no pressure on our member organizations to work more with any particular issue. The freedom of their organizations is one of our main focuses.
The Swedish Association of Youth Councils is politically and religiously independent and welcomes all young people who want to get involved, as long as they want to be part of an inclusive and democratic organization, it is the only requirement. We embrace a norm-critical approach and work as hard as we can to create an accessible organization where everyone feels welcome. This is whats most important for us.
Here you will find information about the Swedish Association for Youth Councils various national meet-ups, trainings and conferences. IRL (In Real Life) is The Swedish Association of Youth Council’s biggest annual event and we invite all members to participate. Somewhere between 100-150 people usually attend the event and the weekend is always bursting with inspiration, discussions and the opportunity to meet new friends. IRL is organized in the fall of each year and is held at different locations. Inspirational Weekends is what we call our three day long lecture events that we arrange two times a year, one in the spring and one in the autumn and just like IRL, the events move around to different places in the country each time. Every weekend has its own theme that can range from more practical knowledge to a political topic.
Establishing a youth council is quite simple. There are certain practical and administrative steps you need to take, but it is often done quickly and isn’t very complicated. Especially since we at the Swedish Association of Youth Councils have all the information you need, and we are happy to help you! The most basic thing you need to start a youth council is a group of young people who wants to join you. You also need to know things you would like to help change in your municipality or community. It doesn’t need to be anything big though, it can be anything from having something fun to do after school to influencing the politicians in your municipality. The only limit to what you can do is you, and your imagination. Once you have decided on to start a youth council there are a few things you need to think about and do in order to become members of the Swedish Association of Youth Councils.
During your first meeting you should discuss the following bulletpoints:
● Your youth council should consist of at least five active members who are willing to attend meetings and be engaged in your activities in order to achieve change. It is important that you really want to do this. Starting a youth council is a step towards make life better for yourselves and others in your community. But it may take time to achieve change, and you might have to fight hard for it. Having trouble finding five people who wants to join? We have lots of tips on how you can go about reaching out to new people, please contact us!
● It is important for you to discuss why you are starting this youth council, what are your goals? Ask yourself these questions: What do we want to achieve? What do we want to change? Why do we want to start the Youth Council?
● You also need to discuss how you want to organize yourselves and how you want to structure the youth council. How do you make decisions? When and how often do you want to meet? How does one become a member? Many of the new youth councils established today are created as independent organisations which is good since it lets you be independent and work how you want and with what you want.
● When starting an organisation, there are some things that you need, a board and statutes for example. This often sounds much more complicated than it is, so do not let it scare you. We are happy to help – just contact us!
● Discuss in the group what kind of relationship you want to other organisations and to the politicians in your municipality. Do you need support? Do you want to collaborate with someone? Which persons/agencies/organizations do you think can help you achieve the change you want?
● Are there any more people in your community that you think should join you? How can you reach out to these people and open up your youth council to them?
● What is the first thing you want to work with in the youth council? Do you want to run a youth cafe, organize concerts, create more internships for young people? Do you want to influence politicians or get better public transport? Do you want to build a skateboard ramp, a new basketball court, or something else? You can do what you want, and many things at once, but it’s always good to have one first main idea that can get you together and give you a common purpose.
When you have discussed these questions, you are ready to start your youth council. All you need to do is have an annual meeting were you elect a board and decide on your statutes, then of you go. If you need any help with the annual meeting or with planning your course of action once you start working we are as always happy to help – just contact us!
Are your organization looking for a partner to work with in nordic/european projekts involving youth empowerment? Or are you a national youth council like us in another nordic/european country who would like to exchanges ideas and network?